Saturday 8 November 2008

Masculin Feminin [1966]

Made during the end of what is now considered the First Phase of French intellectual and iconoclast Jean Luc-Godard’s filmmaking career, Masculin Feminin lies just within the borders insofar as accessibility is concerned. An impressionistic, freewheeling, and wildly satirical take on the Parisian youth culture of 1960’s France, Masculin Feminin, as Godard so brilliantly put it, “is a film on the Children of Marx and Coca Cola”. The movie comprises of a series of disjointed, free form abstracts on a world where the young people participate in discussions and dialogues ranging from Bob Dylan and anti-Vietnam War protests, to love and the Pill. Devoid of any intellectual confines, formal technicalities and linear thought processes, the movie is as nonconforming in its digressions, non sequiturs and formless construction (the memorable acting, for instance, is unrehearsed), as it is in its avalanche of ideas and opinionated musings. The movie is as much a diary of ideologies presented in the form of casual banter, as it is a pointed jab at a society where only a few dare to live while others just continue existing. 

p.s. This is an earlier review. My latest review can be found here.





Director: Jean-Luc Godard 

Genre: Urban Drama/Social Satire/Avant-Garde/Experimental/Romantic Comedy/Existential Drama

Language: French 

Country: France


nitesh said...

Godard is one my favorite filmmaker and Masculin feminine one of his finest works from the 60s. It’s quite true that Godard slowly and steadily started to show the seeds of his political and radical filmmaking tactic from this film onwards. Although, from the beginning of Godard’s career his movies hardly had any form of plot mechanic per se, and the driving force and energy was the his ability to infuse the formal devices to create unique palette of narrative (through actions, gestures, texts, sound) born not of his idea to tell a story but his idea of story was filled with quotes from cinema to philosophy and as you mention from Dyaln to Vietnam that had layers of meaning and has become dense over the years in his works. Atleast in the 60s the characters made his films run because they were identifiable, one could feel a sense of attachment through Leaud or even be confused or bemused by the naiveness shown by Chantel Goya in the end. I think these elements have completely disappeared in his later works.

Godard movies were essays and continue to be, whether as a critic when his essays were a way to movies, or while making movies he was alibi doing the same thing, an eternal cinephile, hence the collage of images through his montage, the dissolution of sound and image, and also mixing it up with his technique to write on image (recently with video), blank space or mixing classical with reportage( the scene where he simply interviews people) or something simply happens in the beginning of the film where Leaud is writing) each of these elements much like the dialogue and discussion as you mentioned paves a foundation to reflect on society, culture, tradition(cinematic and humanity) and tracing the history of cinema vis-à-vis that of humanity made this film not only a document in my head but also something one could look up to understand the social, political and cinematic culture. No wonder they say Godard methods of making films are more akin to action painters.

There is a beautiful passage in the theater that still resonates when I watch many so called good movies here and gives a hope for keeping watching as a cinephile:

“We often went to the movies. The screen lit up and we trembled…But more often than not Madeleine and I were disappointed. The pictures were dated, they flickered. And Marilyn Monroe had aged terribly. It made us sad. This wasn’t the film we’d dreamed of. This wasn’t the total film that each of us had carried within himself...the film we wanted to make, or, more secretly, no doubt, that we wanted to live.”

Paul, in Jean-Luc Godard’s Masculin féminin

Shubhajit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shubhajit said...

Thanks for your views.

I haven't watched a lot of Godard; but in the few of his movies that I have watched, I too have noticed his fascination with the very language of cinema. Be it in Breathless, Band A Part, In Praise of Love (which, along with Pi, I felt to be one of the most difficult movies I've sat through) or Masculin Feminin - his love for cinema is strongly palpable. The passing references - be it the idolizing of Bogart in Breathless or the Billy the Kid & sprint-through-Louvre sequences in Band A Part - these apparently stray tidbits didn't just reveal a bag of nuances of the characters, but also showed Godard's love affair and strong fascination with the medium. This could perhaps be attributed to the fact that he was initially a film critic/writer with revolution in his mind; so he carried forward a volume of knowledge, vocabulary and strong opinions when he decided to step behind the camera. The fact that he attempted to change the very idiom of the art is of course a different matter altogether.